Single-serve coffee is the fastest growing category in the home coffee market, but while the machines are convenient, they can also put a dent in your budget. Here's how you can cut back on the costs.
When it comes to single-serve coffee, Keurig coffee machines are the most popular option. An entry-level machine can cost $99, while a higher-end unit can cost anywhere from $149-$249. That's not bad for an initial investment, but you have to consider the cost of refills.
In general, K-cup refills cost $11.99 for a pack of 18, which works out to 67 cents per cup. If you take into consideration that the average person drinks three cups a day, you could potentially be spending $733 per year on refills.
A cheaper alternative is Ekobrew, a reusable one-cup coffee basket for single-serve brewers. They cost about $10 each. If you're filling the standard 8-ounce cup with a coffee blend that costs approximately $10 per pound, refills will only set you back $192 year.
Another benefit of using a reusable refill cup is that it's much better for the environment. Standard K-cups can't be recycled, but when you're using a basket like Ekobrew, only biodegradable coffee grounds are going into the trash.
So, if you're thinking of getting a single-serve coffee machine, consider purchasing a reusable refill cup. It'll save you money and help save the environment.
Single-Serve Coffee Savings -- Savings Experiment
In AOL's best home brew coffee poll, users' preferences confirm industry numbers. The coffee brands put to the vote were the most frequently praised home brew coffees found on the message boards.
Learn more about these winners and put your taste buds to the test.
Known as the poor man's gourmet coffee, it was originally founded by Gregario Bustelo in 1920s New York City. This deep-roasted, espresso-style coffee long-popular in Hispanic markets has made inroads among mainstream retail chains under the ownership of Rowland Coffee Roasters -- aka the Souto family -- whose coffee roots stretch back to 1800s Cuba.
A 10-oz. package can cost as low as $1.99 in the U.S., and yet it's finished in a million-dollar Italian-designed roaster.
The popular but pricey Newman organics brand, which includes a range of products from salad dressing to pet food, packages Vermont's locally roasted Green Mountain Coffee, Inc.
In addition to organic growth processes, the coffee beans purchased for roasting are Fair Trade Certified. A 10-oz. bag of Newman's Special Blend runs about $7.50, but
the name has become synonymous with quality and taste.
Referred to as the "black gold" of coffee, Jamaican Blue Mountain is a regional, not a corporate, brand and is certified and controlled by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica. The retail price in the U.S. can run up to $30 per pound.
According to iGourmet.com, "It is deemed by the coffee experts of the world to possess all characteristics in perfect balance in the cup."
Coffee drinkers can find Green Mountain's label on Newman's Own coffee brand, at service stations and supermarkets. The boutique company sells more than 75 varieties and blends. A 10-oz. bag ranges from about $6.50 to $8.00. (Some specialities blends cost more.)
Though Green Mountain (GMCR)went public in 1993, the company has stayed true to its core principles of quality products and social responsibility.
Chock Full o' Nuts originated during the depression when founder William Black converted his nut shops to coffee shops in an effort to stay in business.
Still one of the most affordable retail coffees today, this brand is privately owned by Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group.
For as little as $2.99 (in some areas), consumers can purchase a 13-oz. can of bold-flavored, distinctly New York coffee.
Kona is another regionally grown coffee name, similar to Jamaica Blue Mountain, that also claims to be the best coffee in the world and carries the $30 per pound price tag to go with it. The prize of Hawai, Kona is also expensive because volcanic terrain prevents farmers from harvesting beans mechanically.
Rich flavor, mild acidity, aroma and reputation make Kona a favorite, albeit not a daily indulgence.
Gevalia, a Swedish coffee and tea company owned by Kraft since 1971, is a standard European grocery brand that is marketed to the U.S. as a premium product.
An online/mail-order coffee service, Gevalia's longstanding introductory offer for a quality coffeemaker and two bags of premium beans for $10 earns consumer praise.
Originally a whole-bean retail product, Eight O' Clock Coffee launched as a proprietary product of the A&P supermarket chain in 1919. In 2003, the coffee brand was strong enough to incorporate. Today it is the third largest coffee brand by volume and belongs to the Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate.
Loyal consumers on AOL message boards admit to trying other coffee brands, but say they always return.
A leading brand for Kraft Foods, this coffee was first served as a proprietary blend for the Maxwell House hotel in Nashville, Tenn., in 1892. Demand grew beyond the capacity of the hotel, and the Maxwell House brand was born.
Maxwell House is the second largest selling coffee in the U.S., a number unofficially "confirmed" in AOL's poll for Best Home Brew Coffee. For $2.50 to $3.00, caffeine-addicts can get a 13-oz. can of pre-ground beans.
The nation's leading brand of coffee is also the preferred home brew of AOL's user poll. Like other major coffee brands, Folgers coffee can be traced back to the beginning of retail coffee and commercial roasters. It has belonged to P&G since the early 1960s.
The brand offers the same price range and similar varieties to competitors. Perhaps it is the sentimental feel-good commercials that give this brand the edge.